Create Web Friendly Content for Searchers and Search Engines Using These Guidelines
There are really two audiences you must satisfy when writing for the web: searchers and search engines. The trick is to satisfy both. Search engines are programs that cannot see the page graphics or layout, with the job of indexing the page and identifying what is important on the page in order to put in the right spot on a search engine. Searchers quickly scan pages for content, and are usually looking for something specific. That’s why good web friendly content can be tricky to write.
Writing Web Friendly Content for Searchers
Your main objective when writing for searchers is to persuade site visitors to take action on a page by highlighting the best features and selling the experience. Keep your pages focused. It is better to write shorter pages with links than it is to have long pages that your visitors need to scroll down. Web pages should be between 250 to 500 words long, as a rule of thumb. If an article is longer than 500 words, separate it into several pages linked together. Since readers scan most web pages, you may still want to break them up with headings so searchers can easily find specifically what they are looking for. Make your headings bold or larger than your normal page font. You can also use bullets and numbering to make your pages more readable. Also make sure you edit your grammar and check for typos. Luckily these same rules apply to search engine programs too.
Writing Web Friendly Content for Search Engines
Your job is to weave search keyword phrases into the page text so that your site ranks well for them. The hard part is to minimize the awkward nature of this repetition as much as possible, by interspersing the keywords with rich description that matches the tone and style of the website’s existing branding efforts. Many times you will need to use more than one keyword phrase per page as well. The following points will help you:
- Keyword Strategy. When developing copy, concentrate on the primary keyword first, and then rotate usage of the other phrases throughout the page. Don’t try to optimize for more than three keyword phrases per page so that your results are focused.
- Copy Length. Optimal page length for the search engines is 250 to 350 words. This length allows repeated mention of keywords without while maintaining focus.
- Meta tags and Titles: As a general rule, the title should be 60 characters long because that is the length of a Google search title. The meta description should be 150 characters long for the same reason. You may choose to use a meta keyword tag to keep track of the phrases you are optimizing for, although many search engines do not read this tag. It can be about 250 characters long with no keyword repeats.
- Deep Links. Hyperlinks to other pages within the site – or “deep links” – help boost search-engine rankings, especially when the links contain full or partial keyword phrases.
- Places for Key Word Phrases: Title, meta description, meta keywords, headings, bold print, text links, first two paragraphs of text, last word on the page if possible, and alt tags for images.
- Number of Pages. Most brochure websites will need between eight to 10 pages of optimized copy. This can include home page (with the most competitive keywords), about page, services or products pages, FAQ page, and contact page. A news section or blog really helps to develop additional pages and keep content fresh.
- Keyword Density. Strive for between 2% to 5% keyword density. Here is a free keyword density tool for existing pages: http://tools.seobook.com/general/keyword-density/ Here is a free keyword density tool for text: http://textalyser.net/ In order to get keyword density up, sometimes this means that a page must be split into parts so that keyword phrases can be used about 3 to 5 times on a 200-400 word page. Simply add a link at the bottom of the page to read more about “keyword phrase”, and this link will take them to the next part of the page.
- Single Versus Plurals. Use both the singular and plural forms of keywords. Research shows that most users search for plural keywords, although it’s easier to insert the singular form when writing about an individual product or service. Use the plural form in the first heading whenever possible.
- Variation of Antecedent. Make sure to use variation with the word that precedes each keyword phrase. Without variation, the search engine will read the article and keyword as a single cohesive unit, instead of recognizing the targeted keyword phrase as a stand-alone term
By following these rules of thumb, and editing several times for both errors and clarity, you can develop user friendly content that is also optimized for search engines.